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1521 N. Danville St., Arlington, Va. 222Q1 

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The emigrant's guide to the South 
African diamond fields. 

London: Sampson Low, Son, and Marston. 
16 pp., map, 12mo. 1870. 


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Price Sixpence 









By JAMES GILL, M.A. Cantab. 




r 1870 

Spottiswoode <£• Co., Printers, New-street Square, London 










By JAMES GILL, M.A. Cantab. 











N.B. — / pledge my good faith to the truth or credibility of 
all that is set dozen in the following pages. Even in the 
extracts from the letters of diggers, I have been careful to 
select only such as I myself accept, and can conscientiously 
offer to the reader. I am in no way connected with busi- 
ness, and have no stake in the country beyond a few vine 
sticks and a cabbage garden — probably an influx of emi- 
grants will do me more harm than good in raising the price 
of p)rovisions, fyc. Therefore I hope my statements and 
recommendations may be exempt from suspicion. 



It is now about two years since the news thrilled 
through the colony that a diamond had been picked up 
on the banks of the Orange River, had been tested in 
Cape Town, and valued at 500/. The diamond was 
purchased by Sir Philip Wodehouse, Governor of the 
Colony. Shortly after this another diamond was 
picked up in the same neighbourhood by a Kafir, sold 
to his master for a few hundred sheep and goats, and 
resold by him to a mercantile firm for 11,300/. This 
diamond — the ' Star of South Africa,' was sent to 
Europe to be cut and polished, and is said to have been 
purchased by the Prince of Wales for 25,000/. 

Diamonds of greater or less value continued to be 
found, and for some months a ' dropping fire ' was 
kept up of reports from the Free State of diamonds 
and other precious stones having been found. Stiil 
excitement and belief hung fire. The thing was too 
good to be true. The general despondence of the 
Colonial mind, paralysed by long commercial disasters, 

4 The Diamond Fields. 

the insufficiency and distrust of scientific investigation, 
and (I am ashamed to add) a conviction almost 
cowardly that no good thing could ever come out of 
S. Africa, had much to do with this. The slowness 
with which the great fact won its way to general 
belief was one of the strangest things connected 
with it. 

Now all is changed. A few months back a real 
business-like search was commenced by a handful of 
enterprising farmers and others, who planted their 
tents and wagons on the banks of the Vaal River, and 
set to work with pick and spade, on a mound on the 
surface of which diamonds had been picked up. Their 
success may be measured by the fact that in about four 
months the number of people at the diggings has 
increased from 100 to about 5,000. Probably before 
this is in print that number will have been quad- 

The excitement in the colony has already reached 
fever-point. Every man that can get away from his 
farm or his business is c;one or going. Men of all 
positions — the clerk, the shop-keeper, the lawyer, the 
farmer are there, many with their wives and families. 
What with the cry of ' come ' from the diggings, and 
6 go ' from the fair sex at home, the colony is likely to 
be before long emptied of its able-bodied population. 
Large gaps will be left in all handicrafts in the various 
towns of the colony, and those who may not care to 
press on to the diggings, or who may try their luck there 
and fail, will have many alternative resources to fall 
back upon. In passing I may observe that the 
climate of the Cape Colony is during nine months of the 
year magnificent — the winter-cold just keen enough to 
make a sharp walk enjoyable ; the spring and autumn 
temperature so delicious that it is a luxury to breathe ; 
but the summer months (December, January, Feb- 

The Diamond Fields. 5 

ruary) are a little too warm. Still the present 
writer has more than once hunted through a lono- 
summer's clay, with his rifle on his shoulder, and felt 
none the worse for it. 

To return to the diggings. As I am writing chiefly 
for my poorer countrymen at home, and should be 
glad to see them get a large share of the benefits of 
this marvellous discovery, I shall state plainly but 
emphatically my conviction, based upon evidence to 
myself complete and overwhelming — 

1. That the S. African diamond fields in their rich- 
ness, their promise, and their magnitude, surpass all 
other dio-rrino; on record. 

2. That there is abundance of ground for thousands 
of men to work, and that the present generation 
is not likely to see an exhaustion of the fields. 

More than this I do not care to say for purposes of 
exhortation, but shall leave the diggers, in the subjoined 
extracts from letters to their friends, to tell their own 
tale. Were I disposed to excite a furore by relating 
all the marvellous stories that reach us here, I could 
soon fill a volume. To say that the hunt for diamonds 
is a lottery, is merely to put it on a level with all 
human pursuits ; but that there ever was a lottery 
with so many and such rich prizes, and so few blanks, I 
do not believe. The last mail from the dio;o;hws 
brings accounts of several diamonds having been 
picked up by men well known or actually resident in 
this place, one of which was valued on the spot at 
3,000/., another at 5,000/. 

There are many buyers on the ground, and money 
is abundant. They could tell a strange tale of the 
number of diamonds already shipped to Europe, of the 
amount of gold that has passed through their hands 
in the purchase thereof, and the fortunes made thereby. 

6 The Diamond Fields. 


A rough and ready form of government has been 
organised at the diggings, with one Mr. Parker as its 
chief, and a Vigilance Committee for executive. 
Every man taking a claim at the diggings is called 
upon to sign the Diggers' Rules, which are sub- 
' Up to the present time peace and order have pre- 
vailed, and the only punishments inflicted on white 
men have been expulsion from the diggings and a 
ducking in the river. 

The climate at the Camphill grounds requires a 
brief notice. During the summer months (December, 
«I anuary, February, March), it is fiercely hot, and dig- 
gers will have to lie by between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and 
do their best to keep themselves cool. A wooden hut 
daubed with clay, with an overshadowing tree (there 
are noble trees on the Vaal river), is the best shelter. 
The winter nights are cold, and warm clothing and 
plenty of blankets will be required. 

The only things that I should recommend emigrants 
to bring with them, as being dear or not easily pro- 
curable here, are a small filter, a rifle, and a revolver. 
There is very little fear of any one disturbing the 
diggers, as they are more than a match for any power 
in S. Africa ; still it is as well to be prepared. 

Of the appliances used for washing, sifting, &c, I 
say nothing, as before this pamphlet is in circulation, 
they will probably be out of date. But long-toms, 
cradles, &c, and the materials for making them can 
all be bought in the colony, and all diggers'recommend 
that the materials should 'be taken to the ground and 
made up there. 

ROUTE &c. 

The emigrant has a choice of three starting points : 
Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, and D'Urban (Natal). 

The Diamond Fields. 7 

The Cape Town route is too long, the distance to 
the fields being 800 miles, and I know nothing to re- 
commend it. 

Those who have friends in Natal will probably 
choose that route ; and as a little friendly assistance 
and guidance are of the greatest service in a new 
country, I would say nothing to deter them. 

But a glance at the map will shew that the shortest 
and most direct route is from Port Elizabeth via 
Graaff lleinet. 

I would advise the emigrant then to land at Port 
Elizabeth, make the best of his way to Graaff Keinet, 
taking nothing with him but a change of clothes and the 
articles recommended above. The officers of the ship 
which brings him will give better advice than I can do 
as to accommodation, &c. in Port Elizabeth. A 
passenger cart plies between Port Elizabeth and 
Somerset (fare 3/.). The post cart will take him on to 
Graaff Keinet for 30s. About 50lb. of luggage allowed 
in either case. This is a pleasant and expeditious 
route, and the journey over the Zumberg mountains, 
the scenery of Avhich is magnificent, will at once put 
him in love with the country. 

If there should be any difficulty about the Somerset 
passenger cart (the service will probably be increased 
before long), let him get cart and horses and come by 
the direct route to Graaff lleinet. The journey by 
either of these routes occupies at the most three days. 
Wagon travelling is horribly tedious, and the possible 
mishaps from oxen dying, detention by flooded rivers, 
&c. are many. But before investing in cart and 
horses, take some one into your counsel, who knows the 
country. As a general rule, don't rely too much on 
your own wits ; they may be keen enough for northern 
climes, but they will require an extra sharpening on 
this side of the equator. 


The Diamond Fields. 











And now to those who wish to go to work in real 
business-like fashion, I would say — Form a party of 
six (it takes six hands to work a claim properly), club 
together 250/. as your working capital, and take with 
you the following outfit and appliances, the approxi- 
mate prices of which at GraafF Eeinet I give: — 

£ s. 
Wagon — unfinished, but fit to travel . 

Do. finished ..... 
Oxen (10) . . . from £36 to 

, Scotch cart and horse .... 

Three blankets per man, at 95. . 
Six picks, at 7s. Gd. . 
Six spades, at 8s. 

"Coffee, dd. per lb. by the bag. 

Three months' supply of< ®V gar ' 5 / Z * 

11 J ] Kice, 4d. 

L Flour, 3d. 

For Sieves <$-c. 
Sheet iron, 7s. M. per sheet. 
Planks, 4c?. per foot. 
Wood screws (for hut), Is. Gd. to 5s. per gross. 

Clothing of all kinds is very cheap in GraafF Eeinet. 
Moses himself would be astonished at the prices for 
which a man may be rigged out here for the ball-room 
or the digirinffs. 

There are many stores in Graaff Eeinet kept by 
Englishmen, and one house at least, S. E. Wimble 
& Co., where everything that may be required at the 
diggings or elsewhere, from a wagon to a packet of 
needles, may be obtained. 

And now having given such information as I hope 
will enable people at home to judge of the prospect 
before them, I have only to say in conclusion to the 
strong, stout-hearted, sober, and industrious, < Come,' 
and with all my heart I wish them God speed. 

J. G. 

The Diamond Fields. 

Extracts from Newspapers, Letters, &c. 

Eules and Regulations for the Vaal River Diamond Fields. 

Alluvial Claims. 

1st. Every man to bo allowed twenty feet square. No 
party claims to exceed six in number, whose sole claim must 
be taken in conjunction. 

2nd. The boundary of each claim to be distinctly marked, 
and such marks at all times to be kept free from rubbish. 

3rd. All claims to have free access at all times for the 
removal of wash- dirt over any other claims that may be at 

4th. No claims to be allowed to throw their rubbish upon 
their neighbours' claim without permission. 

5th. Should any dispute arise between two or more parties 
respecting their claim, such dispute shall be settled by the 
arbitration of four assessors, appointed by the parties in 
dispute, and a referee to be called in by the assessors, if 
necessary, whose decision shall be final. 

6th. Should any party or parties mark off more ground 
than allowed by these rules, any other person shall have the 
option of taking the surplus ground from any side of such 
claim he may think proper. 

River Claims. 

7th. Each man to be allowed fifty feet frontage along 
the bed of the river, the same to be distinctly marked at low 
water mark. 

Prospecting Claims. 

8th. Any person discovering a new run or patch of dia- 
monds shall, upon reporting the same to a committee appointed, 
be entitled to lour ordinary claims; and such report to be 
posted up in a conspicuous place on the present diggings, 
stating the locality ; and should he fail in reporting, and 
another person finds payable ground in the same locality, the 

10 The Diamond Fields. 

first person reporting shall be entitled to the prospecting 

9th. No party shall be allowed to remain absent from his 
claim more than three successive working days, unless in 
case of sickness, work in conjunction with his claim as wash- 
ing <fcc, or pressing business, when a notice must be posted 
up on his claim, stating the time of his absence ; alter which 
time the claim shall be considered as abandoned. 

10th. No man shall be allowed more than one claim at the 
same time. 

11th. Any person against whom it shall be proved as 
having picked up a diamond upon a claim belonging to 
another, and not restoring it to the owner of such claim 
immediately, shall be considered as a thief, and expelled the 


12th. No heap of dirt upon any abandoned claim shall be 
considered as private property, unless it can be shown to 
a committee that some accident, such as rain, breakage of 
wagon, &c, has prevented the washing or sieving of ^such 
heap of dirt. 

13th. That no party or parties shall be allowed more than 
five niggers to work their claim. 

P. D. J. Vanderbyl, Chairman. 

{From Correspondent o/E. P. Herald.) 

Klip Drift Diamond Fields : 

July 11, 1870. 

Having lately taken a good survey of the Klip Drift diamond 
fields and the manner of working them, I now think myself 
capable of giving you a very good idea of the prospects and 
operations I some time ago promised you I would. 

All up here at present are hard-working men, and deserve 
to be rewarded for their labour- working hard and in good 
spirits— in truth, the sight alone is well worth seeing to a man 
who has never been in a mining country before. Here you 
have doctors attorneys, shopkeepers, agents, Boers, mechanics, 
and every calling with pick and shovel in hand, working like 
good fellows; here you see men who never did a hard day's 
work in their lives, either rocking cradles or loading and 


The Diamond Fields. 11 

unloading cart*, as if they had been brought up to the greatest 
hard labour. I must say South Africa has redeemed itself, 
and it is not to be said she is asleep, as before break of day 
one hears the riding of ground, the rumbling of carts and 
wagons to the river for washing, and as soon as the sun 
gives any light, all the workers are at work, either with cradle 
or riding on the precious earth. It is really a grand sight to 
see all hands at work up and down the river as far as the 
eye can stretch, and at night the sight is still grander, if 
one views the camp fires of hundreds of toilers from Mount 

Mount Pleasant, I must remark, is the residence of S. 
Parker, Esq., the justly nominated commandant. The present 
population is about 500, may be GOO, with an immense daily 
increase. Provisions and mining tools are in good supply — 
no demand, early provision having been made by those 
who had 6 faith.' There are two butchers, two bakers, 
and also blacksmiths' shops, boarding houses, and drinking 

In reference to the dispute of the ownership of the diamond 
regions, I think the diggers are very honourable, and fair in 
their action with those who have caused the same. They justly 
observe that they have no objection to be subject to any govern- 
ment, provided that government clearly proves its claim to 
the soil; and they are not unwilling to pay what is generally 
called in English mining colonies 'a mining license,' say £1 
a-year, but if not proved they will hold occupation, peaceably 
or by force. There is a general muster every Saturday after- 
noon ; last Saturday 500 men answered the roll-call, all armed 
with 6-shooters and rifles — and as there is a photographer 
here I will send you a nice photo, of the * Army of the 

(From another Correspondent.) 

Diamond Fields: July 9, 1870. 
I am now at the diamond fields, and am doing a first-rate 
business. It is like a small London up here, almost, diamonds 
are being found wholesale, and the wagons with diggers are 
coming in at the rate of about one hundred per diem. Mer- 
chandise of every description can be obtained here pretty 


12 The Diamond Fields. 

cheap. If you wish you can put the outlines of this in your 
paper. Diamonds are found every day and all day, valued at 
from £10 to £3,000, for which there are any amount of pur- 
chasers on the ground. 

P.S. — You might also put in your paper that all letters for 
the diamond fields must be addressed: — ' Diamond Fields, via 
Jacobsdal, Orange Free State.' 


(From the Colesberg Herald.) 

Pniel Diamond Fields : July 28th. 
Thirty-three diamonds were picked up on the other side 
yesterday, and all of them of good size. 

Friday, 29th. 
t Again I have to report the picking up of diamonds on both 
sides. To-day Messrs. Heppell and Harley got one of 4 
carats, in the shape of a triangle. W. Bailey & Co. got one 
to-day, their first day's work. Mr. Green got two to-day, and 
other parties were also successful. 

Saturday, 30th. 
W. Bailey & Co. got two diamonds to-day, and Mr. Green 
one. Over the river the day has been spent in electing a new 
committee, and Mr. Parker has been elected President. 

Mr. Babe's long-torn and cradle appears to me to be the 
most complicated and troublesome affair on the field. This, 
of course, is only my opinion, and others may think differently ; 
but fancy a 'babe' rocking its own cradle— the effort must be 

Monday, August 1st. 
Diamonds continue to turn up trumps. On the other side 
14 that I know of have been found. On this side several have 
been picked up, but I fhncy many are kept dark on account of 
the one-fourth to be paid to the missionary society. It would 
be much better if the charge was reduced to, say one-sixth. 
Then all would act honestly, and all diamonds found would be 
reported. Mr. F. Pvawstorne got two small ones to-day. W. 
Bailey & Co. got another, and H. van Blerk and G. Alexander 
two more small ones. D. Koen and J. van Blerk found a very 

The Diamond Fields. 13 

small one to-day. W. Bailey & Co. have found three diamonds 
in four days : a very lucky commencement, and I hope they 
will go on and win. T. B. Kisch is still unsuccessful, at least 
he says so ; however, if Mr. Kisch has been up to the present 
unlucky, I hope he will now commence, and if he would stick to 
one spot instead of changing about so often, he must and would 

We have fresh arrivals every day, and have now, I think, 
as many on this side as they have on the other. It is a won- 
derful sight to see so many wagons and tents accumulated 
together. There is no town in the Cape colony that presents 
a more busy appearance than does the diggings. It is in fact 
a city — a large city, although of tents and booths. In the 
evening the clouds of smoke ascending from the number of 
fires darken the atmosphere for miles round, and give one to 
imagine what smoky London is like.' 

Items of News from the Diamond Fields to 

August 4, 1870. 

(From a Correspondent.) 

Hopotown : August Wth, 1870. 

The number of white persons at the diamond fields — men, 
women, and children — may be fairly estimated at about ibur 
thousand souls. They are pretty equally distributed on each 
side of the Vaal River. Possibly, the majority may have 
pitched their tents upon the Pniel side of the stream. 

Commandant Parker was elected President of the new Re- 
public on Saturday, July 30th, and an Executive Council was 
chosen, about one-third of whom are supposed to have Free 
State sympathies. The President gave a ball the same even- 
ing. President Pretorius, of the Transvaal, arrived at the 
diggings on Monday, August 1st, and was received by Presi- 
dent Parker. On Wednesday he signed the rules and took 
out a claim, which he is now engaged in working. He is 
accompanied by Mr. Proes. The feeling of the English por- 
tion of the diggers is strongly in favour of annexation to the 
Transvaal, should their liberties and free working of the 
diainondiferous territory be conceded them. 


14 The Diamond Fields, 

The South African Goldfields. 

On Tuesday last some excitement was caused by the publica- 
tion of the following telegram, dated Port Elizabeth, Aug. 15 : — 

' By letter received last Friday from the Tatin news has 
been obtained of the result of the quartz-crushing. Although 
the machinery is very deficient in power, the yield has been 
of extraordinary richness. Two ounces per ton was the lowest 
amount obtained, and the Australian diggers are reported to 
be astonished at the richness of the quartz. 

From Natal, we learn that a formal compact has been 
entered into between N'Bengule, king of Matabele, and his 
chief men, and Mr. Levert, as agent of the London and 
Limpopo Company, whereby the latter is granted the sole 
possession of and the right to mine in the Tatin district. 
N'Bengule pledges himself to protect the grantees against all 
intruders. The rights of professional hunters, however, are 
retained. At a meeting of the Tatin settlers, Mr. Levert de- 
clared the country would be open to all lawful miners who 
would consent to abide by the Company's rules and regulations, 
and take proper leases.' — Argus. 



A Diamond worth 27,000/. said to be picked up. 


King Williamstown : 

Tuesday, 2'Srd August, 1870. 

Diamond news by last night's post sensational. 

Bloemfontein and Potchefstroom being deserted. Five 
thousand now at the fields. 

Finds,— from forty to forty-five daily, as far as can be ascer- 
tained. Many, however, keep dark. 

Friend denies that statements are exaggerated. 

Unger, diamond merchant, says that "the size of the finds, 
and the area of the fields, are matter of the greatest wonder, 
surpassing in these respects all hitherto discovered regions. 

Letter received in King Williamstown, from Mr. II. J. 
liaise, of Aliwal, mentions having received a letter from Mr. 
Sheppard, at Smithfield, stating that a clergyman had arrived 

MP "^ 

The Diamond Fields. 15 

per post-cart from the fields, and reports that another lar^e 
diamond had been discovered, for which the possessor was 
offered and refused 9,000/. cash. Estimated value 27,000/. 

I am so awfully tired. We have just finished our first day's 
work, and my hands are very shaky and painful, they are 
both very much blistered. I think it is about the hardest 
day's work that I have ever done. You would be very much 
surprised to see what a number of people we have here — lots 
of the fair sex, many of the people having their families with 
them. The whole of the country about the river is duo; out. 
You know the gravel quarries behind the hospital ; well, the 
hills here look very similar to that. We have first to dig the 
gravel on the hill and cart it to the river, where we wash it 
in cradles (like those we have in the store) ; the stones, 
pebbles, &c, are left behind, all the earth having been washed 
away; the pebbles are then placed on a table and examined, 
to see if there are any diamonds among them. You can dis- 
tinguish them at once ; they look like a piece of white glass 
among the stones. Most people seem to have been successful ; 
if you ask them if they have been lucky, they generally reply 
by putting their hands in their pockets and pulling out two or 
three diamonds. One man pulled out twenty-one. They are 
quite careless, carrying them loose in their trowsers pockets. 
It took us seventeen days to get up here. I can tell you we 
were very tired, and glad to get up here. When you write 
mind you enclose as much as you can in one envelope, because 
we have to pay one shilling for each we receive, irrespective 
of size or weight. 

The Diamond Fields. 

Mr. L. Baumann arrived direct from the fields yesterday, 
and brings the most enthusiastic accounts of them, as well as 
a number of diamonds. He states his belief, alter personal 
intercourse with the diggers, that many more gems are found 
than are reported, and confirms the statement that Messrs. 
Unger and Hond assert that these are beyond compare the 
richest diamond fields that have ever been discovered! The 
price of land in the Free State has already risen considerably, 
and is still expected to rise rapidly. We hope to publish further 
particulars on Wednesday. 

August 127, 1870. 


16 The Diamond Fields. 

(From The Friend.) 

The Pniel Diggings are proving a most wonderful success. 
No less than 75 diamonds have in one week (the last week) 
been registered by the committee, on which the truly astonish- 
ing amount of 1,000/. stg. has been paid to the missionary. 
A thousand pounds in one week, without toil or trouble. 
Truly the lines of these missionaries have at length fallen to 
them in pleasant places. The 1,000/. is supposed to represent 
the fourth of the one week's findings, but it is an admitted 
fact that very many of the diamonds found are never heard 
of, or seen, except by the finder himself. The rule adopted is, 
that the finder shall take his diamonds to the commitlee to be 
weighed and registered, i.e., entered in a book to be kept for 
that purpose, and that he shall thereafter be at liberty to dis- 
pose of the same as he thinks proper. The Pniel Diggings 
are decidedly far more promising than the original ones on 
the opposite side of the river. One Waldek has sunk a hole 
to the depth of 10 feet through the diamondiferous soil with- 
out getting to the bottom of it, and even at that depth has 
obtained diamonds ; while at the first kopje, at the original 
diggings, of which so much has been written, the soil in no 
case extended to a depth of more than 2 to 4 feet. Numbers 
of diamonds are daily found within the Pniel lands. 

Whilst the population of the Pniel side is sober, steady, and 
has Free State sympathies, that over the water is hard-working, 
energetic, pleasure-loving, and English. Its Executive Com- 
mittee is now busy planning the erection of a large music 
hall, and the purchase of a grand piano is under discussion. 
The billiard-room is not yet completed. The punishment of 
crime is rough and ready. White men are put across the 
river. Blacks are flogged. In no place has the present writer 
seen the sons of Ham more cheerful, active, and contented. 

No one should sacrifice 200/. a year to work at the 
diamond fields. No one should work for a shorter period 
than three months. As a rule, married men had better keep 
away. Expensive outfits are to be avoided. It is a question 
whether a large tub of water, and a good assortment of sieves 
worked upon the claim itself, be not preferable to the trouble- 
some and expensive paraphernalia of Scotch carts, oxen, lon<r- 
toms, cradles, and pumps, so generally adopted. 

Spottiswoode & Co., Printers, New-street Square, London. 






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